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Southampton Tory opposition leaders say they will take legal action if Labour bosses publish information about Government cuts on the council website
Updated 9:39am Saturday 5th April 2014 in News
CIVIC chiefs in Southampton could face legal action if they attempt to put “political propaganda” on the council’s website and email bulletins.
Labour city council bosses wanted to publish information about the cut in Government funding to the city since the Coalition took power.
They were thwarted at a recent council meeting when the mayor ruled the plans were “out of order”.
But they say they may put forward another motion later in the year, and Tory opposition leaders say they will take legal action against the council if they go ahead with the plan.
Labour council leader Simon Letts had put forward the plans, saying Southampton was being “hammered” by central Government.
He says the city council has seen a £148 per person cut in funding since the Coalition came to power in 2010, compared to £28 per person in Winchester, a more affluent Conservative authority.
His proposal was to put that information on the council’s website and send it out to residents signed up to the council’s Stay Connected email bulletin.
Tory leader Royston Smith has challenged Labour plans
But following complaints from Tory opposition leader Royston Smith that it would be a misuse of public resources for “political propaganda”, city mayor Ivan White, a Conservative, ruled it out of order.
Cllr Smith said: “In attempting to use public resources to send a political message they are attempting to behave like a dictator in a banana republic. Whatever next, no elections?
“If they had been allowed to continue we would have taken legal action against the council for malpractice and we will do so if this is approved at a later meeting.”
He said the city had only seen its grants reduced by 28 per cent since the Coalition came to power, in comparison with 43 per cent at Hampshire County Council and 47 per cent at Winchester City Council, as a result of grants which have been handed out for specific projects.
Cllr Letts said: “We are trying to show that Southampton has been particularly badly hit by cuts in comparison with other areas of Hampshire.”
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